Starc rocks England with two wickets from first two balls
MANCHESTER, SEPT 16: Australia's Mitchell Starc stunned England with two wickets off the first two balls in the third and deciding one-day international at Old Trafford on Wednesday before the world champions hit back.
England captain Eoin Morgan won the toss and batted on a fresh pitch with the three-match series all square at 1-1.
But the first ball of the match saw Jason Roy edge a drive off Starc to Glenn Maxwell at backward point.
And the very next ball left-arm fast bowler Starc had Joe Root lbw with an inswinger.
Test captain Root consulted his Yorkshire colleague Jonny Bairstow at the non-striker's end but decided against a review, with the ball looking like it would have knocked over his leg stump.
England were 0-2 with Starc a ball away from joining fellow left-arm paceman Chaminda Vaas, who achieved the feat at the 2003 World Cup, as the only other bowler to take a hat-trick with the first three balls of a one-day international.
But left-hander Morgan survived the hat-trick delivery when the ball thudded into his pads, with Starc not getting the desired swing.
And the fourth ball of the match saw Morgan slam Starc through the covers for four.
Bairstow then hit Josh Hazlewood for two crunching fours before lofting Pat Cummins for six as England recovered to 47-2 off the first seven overs.
Australia were again without Steve Smith, the star batsman not featuring at all in this series after being hit on the head by a throw-down from a member of the tourists' coaching staff while batting in the nets last Thursday.
The visitors insisted he was being rested purely as a precaution despite passing two concussion tests.
But, having seen him bat in the nets again on Tuesday, they decided against playing him in the decider, with Australia captain Aaron Finch saying at the toss: "Steve Smith had a long hit yesterday and pulled up a little groggy. When you're dealing with a head injury, you want to be cautious."
Australia were unchanged but England recalled fast bowler Mark Wood, fit after an ankle niggle, in place of left-arm paceman Sam Curran.
That followed England's dramatic 24-run win on Sunday when Australia, seemingly cruising to victory, lost their last eight wickets for 63 runs.
This is England's final fixture of a home season overshadowed by the coronavirus.
If they win, to finish 2-1 up, it will mean England have preserved their five year unbeaten run in home bilateral ODI series.
It will also mean England have not lost a series in any format across 18 matches this summer.
All those fixtures have been played behind closed doors, with England players holed up in bio-secure bubbles in Manchester and Southampton for the best part of three months.
"It's been incredible -- our thanks go out to all the teams (West Indies, Pakistan, Ireland and Australia) who came over and took the leap of faith and left it in the ECB's (England and Wales Cricket Board's) hands," said Morgan.
"It's been a special year to achieve all of our games." -AFP